I had the opportunity yesterday of preaching on Luke’s very interesting account of Zacharias (Luke 1:5-79). The story has always fascinated me. A faithful man (“walking blamelessly in all the commandments and regulations of the Lord” [Lk. 1:6]) had an encounter of the heavenly kind that would forever change his life! Finally–after years of waiting, the lot fell to Zacharias. His name was called! He would be the one to offer the incense offering! Of the 18,000 priests in Israel at the time, he would be the one to tread on holy ground. At the appointed hour for the offering (Lk. 1:10), the crowd began to pray while Zacharias entered the holy place. Surely a healthy dose of godly fear filled his soul as he walked toward the incense altar which sat in front of the curtain and the most holy place. It is more than possible that two names were in the forefront of his consciousness–Uzzah and Uzziah. You may remember the former. Uzzah was the well-meaning Israelite who did the right thing the wrong way. When the Ark shifted on the ox cart, Uzzah instinctively reached out to protect it (2 Sam. 6:6). I’m sure you recall what transpired next. God punished him (2 Sam. 6:7). Uzzah mishandled the holy and paid the ultimate price. The same can be said of King Uzziah. Talk about an interesting character! If you ever have the time, do a study on his life. He did some good things, and at least one bone-headed thing. Pride got the best of him once. He wanted to function not just in the role of king, but in that of priest as well. He decided that he wanted to enter the holy place to offer the incense offering (2 Chr. 16:16). The priests did what they could to stop him. Azariah, the chief priest, reprimanded the king with these words, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the Lord God” (2 Chr. 26:18). As the king’s anger began to burn, so did his forehead–with leprosy (26:19)! Uzziah mishandled the holy and paid a costly price. Zacharias wanted to do just the opposite! His goal was to enter the holy place to do the right thing in the right way. And, he was doing just that until the very unexpected happened! Someone slipped out from behind the curtain. An angel appeared, and his life would never be the same! I’ll discuss that interesting visit on Tuesday. Today I wanted to remind myself not to mishandle the holy. I desire to tread lightly on holy ground. Let’s strive to maintain a healthy dose of godly fear this Christmas season!
Check the Quick Takes page for a sermon I watched on this subject.